In the first cabinet expansion since he took oath as the prime minister of the world’s largest democracy, Narendra Modi has included 21 new faces in the union cabinet. The highlight of this entire exercise has been the inclusion of Manohar Parrikar, who has replaced Arun Jaitley as the defence minister. Parrikar who was earlier the Goa chief minister is considered to have a clean image and it is being hoped that he will be able to manoeuvre the sensitive portfolio with ease. This comes as a relief for Jaitley who already is the man in-charge of the crucial portfolio of finance and with impending budget for fiscal year 2014-2015, it indeed was getting difficult for the senior BJP leader to take stock. In addition, the inclusion of Suresh Prabhu, a surprise entry, is also being touted as an important move by the Modi government to retain focus on technocratic efficiency, instead of going by the rule book. With Prabhu expected to get rail ministry, a much-needed overhaul could be in the pipeline for the flaccid sector, which has been suffering incalculable losses over the past years, even under the incumbent minister Sadananda Gowda’s headship. However, other than the cursory names doing rounds for ministerial berths there have been a lot of speculations and deliberations as far as the expansion is concerned. Controversial names like Girirah Singh have found a place in the extended cabinet, which in itself is a cause for concern.
The first and foremost is the falling out of the Uddhav Thackeray led Shiv Sena, even though Anant Geete has not resigned from the Cabinet. Another inference that needs to be ably drawn from this expansion is the fact that ministers have been included keeping regional priorities and aspirations in mind. If Bihar, which faces assembly elections in 2015, has got three cabinet and one state ministerial berths, Uttar Pradesh too will see handsome involvement with one cabinet and two state ministerial berths. UP, which became the canvas for BJP’s sensational victory in the Lok Sabha elections will see a prolonged BJP-Apna Dal arrangement and the saffron party will not be settling for anything other than wresting complete control of the state from Samajwadi Party. West Bengal, a state which sees the saffron politics as an outcast but still gave a chance to singer turned politician Babul Supriyo has also been rewarded with a ministerial berth. It must be noted that the state goes to assembly polls in 2016 and BJP is geared for a good showing even there. Newly formed Telangana too has been given representation with Bandaru Dattatrey being included in the union cabinet. Maharashtra with three ministerial positions and Haryana with two have been rewarded keeping in mind BJP’s good show in both the states.